“I want this one to win overall, I want this one to win its class, I want this one to win its class, and I want this one to win its class,” Ryan Maddison states, pointing to the quartet of distinctly coloured Mercedes-AMG GT3s lined up in Spa-Francorchamps’ pitlane. The Australian has every reason to be this confident going into the 24 Hours of Spa. Having previously lead Erebus Motorsport to victory in the Bathurst 12 Hours, he knows what it takes to win big races and that’s exactly what he has found at Black Falcon. It’s why they choose him to lead the Nürburgring-based squad as its teammanager.
For many in Australia, Ryan Maddison is a well-known name. Even though he was with the Erebus team for only three years, under his guidance the Victoria-based team went on to win the 2013 Bathurst 12 Hours and debut a pair of Mercedes-Benz silhouette cars in the V8 Supercars Championship.
“Back in Australia I was the Chief Executive Officers for Erebus Motorsport,” Maddison recalls the early days of the Mercedes-Benz team. “We had a Supercars program for the three years that I ran. In parallel to that we also had a GT program with two SLSs for a four or five-year period. Underneath that we at certain times also had an academy program and did some other feeder classes such as V8 Utes, Formula 3, some go-karting, so it was very diverse.”
Everything must end and so did Maddison’s time with Erebus. After a short couple of years working for himself, he returned to fulltime racing, now on the other side of the globe.
“At the start of 2015 I departed with Erebus. My role as CEO came to an end as you’re only effective for a certain period.
“I left and started my own business in consulting. I’ve always stayed in very close contact with Black Falcon as we’ve been working with them in various forms over the last six years. [Black Falcon teammanager] Seán Paul [Breslin] asked me to come over to Spa in 2016 after the win in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring and make an observation and a report.
“I really enjoyed working with and being around the team and when there was a manager position change at the start of the year, he asked if I would apply to work with him trying to manage the GT team to constant and better performances.”
The task Maddison has taken upon himself is varied and goes beyond the usual job of a teammanager.
“Technically, I’m the team manager, but in this team that’s a very diverse role: it’s everything from team coordination coming to and from an event.
“After my previous background in GT and Supercars, I really enjoy the engineering and the performance side, so I get heavily involved with the engineering group and how they look into changing and maximizing the car, the tyres, changes for the next session. Other than that, it’s coordinating the team when we go racing.”
Although the burgeoning Australian GT Championship is quickly growing in allure, its location halfway across the world from where the great races are held, makes it an isolated championship. The prospect of competing at tracks such as Monza, Spa-Francorchamps and especially the Nürburgring was one that greatly appealed to Maddison.
“I’ve done my time in Australia, I love Australian motorsport, for sure. This was an opportunity to work in Europe in a very strong category like GT3, which has been really appealing to me since we started the GT program in Australia.
“To come here to all the race tracks you only hear about, and now be able to compete and experience them is a bit of a dream come true, really.
“It’s amazing to race the Nordschleife. In Australia, we only have Bathurst that has any comparison. Yes, it has a lot of elevation change and it’s a crazy race track for us with its 6 kilometres. But when you go onto the Nordschleife, it’s just a nonstop rollercoaster. I’m amazed to drive around it in a race car and experience it and then to see track data from these GT guys that perform lap in, lap out, hour after hour. It’s incredible what they can do with a GT car on the Nordschleife—it rewards the heroes. To be able to drive fast you’ve gotta be really skilled, smart and courageous. With so much traffic you also have to be very patient at times, while at other times it’s obviously also very intense.
“I have a huge amount of respect for the driver and an enormous amount of respect for the race track. It’s been really cool.”
One day, whenever that day comes, he’ll go back home to his family.
“Australia is still home for me. I’ll see what happens after however long I’ll work with the team. The focus right now is a better performance for the team so we’ll see how long that takes and what I can offer.
“I’m sure that at some point I’ll go home—I don’t know how or when that is—but it’s still home. I’ve got a big family there. I miss them a lot,” Maddison concludes, smiling as he thinks of his homeland.
And about those cars he so wanted to win the 24 Hours of Spa? Well, he got one of them right…